Comments on proposed rule softening MU due June 15; How health plans can use technology to improve consumer engagement;

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> Applications for funds under the Community Interoperability and Health Information Exchange Cooperative Agreement Program are due June 15. The program is aimed to increase the number of non-eligible care providers that can share data electronically. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT will award up to 10 of these one-year contracts. Announcement

> The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a news alert June 8 reminding the public that comments on its proposed rule modifying the Meaningful Use program for 2015-2017 are due June 15. The proposed rule, issued April 15, proposes to change several requirements under Stage 1 and 2 of the program in light of some of the difficulties providers have had trying to comply. Comments on CMS' proposed rule implementing Stage 3 of the program were due May 29. Proposed rule

Health Finance News

> Pharmaceutical spending, particularly for specialty drugs, skyrocketed last year. Spending on drugs rose 13 percent in 2014 from the prior year, reaching $373.9 billion, according to a report from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA). Specialty drugs were responsible for much of the increase, as costs in that category increased 20.1 percent last year. By comparison, the costs for non-specialty drugs rose 5.7 percent. Article

> Hospitals and healthcare systems are becoming more capable of functioning in a world of value-based payments, according to a new survey by the Healthcare Financial Management Association and Humana. Although just 12 percent of the payments that come from commercial insurers are part of a value-based plan, the 146 senior healthcare finance executives queried for the survey believe that number will rise to 50 percent within the next three years. Article

Health Insurance News   

> As the health insurance market continues its shift to consumer-driven health plans, payers gain an edge by implementing technology that improves consumer engagement as well as the management and delivery of benefits, according to a Healthcare Trends Institute report.  For good or ill, the Affordable Care Act has placed the onus on consumers to learn more about their health insurance, the report stated. As a result, consumer-driven health plans need educational tools that help people find the plans that work for their healthcare and financial needs. Article

> Anti-fraud efforts involving data analysis and coding investigations saved Highmark Inc. more than $100 million last year. The Pittsburgh-based insurer's Financial Investigations and Provider Review (FIPR) department--made up of nurses, investigators, accountants, former law enforcement agents and programmers--reviewed more than 2,400 cases in 2014 using audit programs that targeted unusual claims and coding investigations that reviewed inappropriate payments. The FIPR department expects that financial savings tied to fraud prevention will exceed $115 million in 2015. Article    

And Finally... What, he didn't want to break a twenty? Article